Music Download Trial Begins in Minn.

The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 3, 2007; 1:19 AM

DULUTH, Minn. -- Was there a serial downloader lurking outside Jammie Thomas' window? Did someone else hook up a computer to her Internet connection?

Those are some of the questions her attorney has been raising in the nation's first trial of someone accused of illegally sharing music online.

But Richard Gabriel, lead attorney for some of the nation's largest record companies, sought to pick those ideas apart one by one by calling witnesses to document each step the record companies used to point the finger at Thomas.

Testimony in the civil case was to resume Wednesday in federal court in Duluth. The case could wrap up as early as Wednesday night or Thursday.

On the courthouse steps Tuesday, Thomas denied illegally downloading music. In court, attorney Brian Toder has said there's no proof she shared music illegally.

Toder's cross-examination has focused on raising doubt about whether the record companies can really prove it was Thomas who downloaded and shared the 1,702 songs, as the record companies allege she did in 2005.

He suggested in his questioning that someone other than Thomas _ someone outside her window, or a neighbor _ could have been responsible if she used a wireless router. That could have allowed anyone nearby to utilize her Internet connection, using the same address that led the record companies to Thomas.

The companies have backed up their claims with literally a wall of data _ enlarging printouts of logs and dates and Internet addresses on a screen in front of jurors, with Gabriel zeroing in with a laser pointer to highlight the entries he says prove Thomas did what they say she did.

Mark Weaver of SafeNet Inc. testified about how his company, at the behest of the record companies, found 1,702 songs offered by a user of the Kazaa file-sharing program under the name "tereastarr."

Then defense attorneys put on David L. Edgar of Charter Communications, Thomas' Internet provider. He testified about how he and another investigator independently matched the Internet address used by tereastarr to both Thomas' account and an electronic address for the cable modem she leased from the company.

Doug Jacobson, a computer security expert and professor at Iowa State University, testified that Toder's theory that someone else used a wireless router to download the songs linked to Thomas was far-fetched. He said records subpoenaed from Charter don't show the kind of Internet address used by such routers.

"There was no wireless router used in this case," he said.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Associated Press